President Bush's critics often accused him of alienating key U.S. allies. Frequently that case was overstated, as the Bush Administration forged stronger bilateral ties with many strategically important allies, and as the Administration's foreign critics were often engaged in faux outrage for domestic political purposes over purely symbolic issues. That said, at least when the Bush Administration set out to do something our allies didn't like, it (1) did so to advance concrete U.S. interests and (2) stuck to its guns.
With the Obama Administration, neither is true. Fresh off a bizarre series of unnecessary gaffes in dealing with friend (the U.K.) and foe (Russia) alike, and after already rattling sabers and then caving on trade war threats with Canada and the EU, Obama and Congressional Democrats have brought us to the brink of a full-blown trade war with Mexico - and they are stuck trying to climb down from the ledge. Brian Faughnan has some of the background here; today's news is the desperate scramble to avoid the consequences of the Democrats' own policies as Mexico escalates with new tariffs for the Administration's violation of our treaty obligations under NAFTA:
The White House says it wants to work with lawmakers to restore a program that allows cross-border trucking with Mexico.
Mexico Monday put in place tariffs on 90 U.S. products after Washington canceled a program that allowed some trucks from Mexico to operate in the U.S. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says the administration wants to work with Congress to come up with a plan that would restore that program.
The Mexican Economy Department says the U.S. decision violates a provision of the North American Free Trade Agreement that was supposed to have opened cross-border trucking years ago. Department officials told a news conference Monday that the measure will affect about $2.4 billion in trade, covering agricultural and industrial products from 40 U.S. states.
Following a financial crisis with a trade war is, of course, the textbook laid out by the Hoover Administration; even the Obama team seems to understand this, but they are squandering American credibility by making threats they know full well they can't afford to back up.